National Catholic Register

Arts & Entertainment

Weekly Video Picks

BY John Prizer

Septembar 29-October 5, 2002 Issue | Posted 9/29/02 at 1:00 PM


Monsters, Inc. (2001)

Monsters, Inc. is based on a clever reversal: a universe in which monsters are as scared of kids as the little ones are of them. The reason monsters leap out of closets to frighten children, see, is to collect their screams — which are the energy sources for their hometown, Monstropolis. But kids are becoming harder to scare, and there's a scream shortage. Monstropolis faces a power crisis with rolling blackouts.

Coming to the rescue are a big blue monster named Sully (voice of John Goodman) and his buddy Wazowski (Billy Crystal), a green eyeball with arms and legs. However, the crab-like Henry J. Waternoose (James Coburn) and the snake-like Randall Boggs (Steve Buscemi) are working against them for their own villainous reasons. All this is complicated when a human child, Boo (Mary Gibbs), inserts herself into the monster world.

By Way of the Stars (1992)

The Wild West was both an idea and a geographic location, and it's easy to forget that these two notions had as much appeal to 19th-century Europeans as to Americans. By Way of the Stars, a TV miniseries based on a novel by German author Willi Fahrman, is an exciting coming-of-age story that exemplifies this point of view. A young boy growing up in the civilized environment of 19th-century Prussia sets out to find his long-lost father. The quest leads him across Europe and post-civil war America to the wildest parts of the Canadian frontier.

Along the way the boy, Lukas, meets up with the snooty Ursula von Knabig, the rough Ben Davis and a variety of other picturesque characters. Director Allan King and screen-writer Marlene Matthews create an epic canvas for Lukas' adventures. Intricate plot twists are punctuated by psychological insights, social observations and moving personal moments.

Wee Willie Winkie (1937)

Hidden among the melodramatic women's pictures and high-powered romances of Hollywood's Golden Age are little gems like Wee Willie Winkie, in which Shirley Temple marches with the British Imperial Army and makes peace between the colonialists and a tribe of unhappy subjects.

Director John Ford masterfully adapts Rudyard Kipling's popular story set in India in the 1890s. An American widow moves with her preteen daughter, Priscilla (Temple) into the home of her father-in-law, who's in charge of a remote British army camp. Priscilla befriends the tough Sgt. MacDuff (Victor McLaglen) and the notorious rebel chieftain, Khoda Khan (Cesar Romero), who's imprisoned there. When Khan's tribe attacks the camp, the colonel believes his granddaughter has been kidnapped. Only Priscilla's quick wit and courage prevent a bloody slaughter.